The Caring Crab

Colin the Crab, the most skillful builder on the eastern riverbank, never hesitates to help his friends. Now Colin is busy with his own new project—a garden pavilion for his home. But after a week of hard work, the pavilion of his dreams is still unfinished. Even worse, a boisterous fish family has taken over the construction site. The exhausted Colin buries himself under a blanket and refuses to open his curtains. Puzzled, Colin’s friends call an emergency meeting—it’s time for them to take action!

Colin the Crab, the most skillful builder on the eastern riverbank, never hesitates to help his friends. Now Colin is busy with his own new project—a garden pavilion for his home. But after a week of hard work, the pavilion of his dreams is still unfinished. Even worse, a boisterous fish family has taken over the construction site.
The exhausted Colin buries himself under a blanket and refuses to open his curtains. Puzzled, Colin’s friends call an emergency meeting—it’s time for them to take action!


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The Caring Crab

Tuula Pere • Roksolana Panchyshyn



The Caring Crab

Story by Tuula Pere

Illustrations by Roksolana Panchyshyn

Layout by Peter Stone

English translation by Päivi Vuoriaro

Edited in English (US) by Susan Korman

ISBN 978-952-325-723-8 (ePub)

ISBN 978-952-325-223-3 (Print)

First edition

Copyright © 2016 Wickwick Ltd

Published 2016 by Wickwick Ltd

Helsinki, Finland

Printed in EU

Originally published in Finland by Wickwick Ltd in 2016

Finnish “Avulias taskurapu”, ISBN 978-952-325-072-7 (Print), ISBN 978-952-325-572-2 (ePub)

English (US) “The Caring Crab”, ISBN 978-952-325-223-3 (Print), ISBN 978-952-325-723-8 (ePub)

The Caring Crab text with illustrations by Tuula Pere has been published by Wickwick Ltd in 2010 and 2013

Finnish “Avulias taskurapu”, ISBN 978-952-5878-00-4 (Print), 978-952-5878-27-1 and 978-952-5878-28-8 (ePub)

English (UK) “The Caring Crab”, ISBN 978-952-5878-01-1 (Print), 978-952-5878-29-5 and 978-952-5878-30-1 (ePub)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted

in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior

written permission of the publisher Wickwick Ltd. The only exception is brief quotations in printed articles and

reviews. For details and written permissions, contact rights@wickwick.fi.

Wickwick books are available at special discounts when purchased in quantity for premiums and promotions as

well as fundraising or educational use. Special editions can also be created to specification. For details, contact




The Caring Crab

Tuula Pere • Roksolana Panchyshyn



Children’s Books from the Heart



Colin the Crab was the most skillful builder on the eastern riverbank. He

had used his skills to build a cozy home for himself. First, he’d built a

well-equipped kitchen and a small bedroom on top of the cellar. Then he’d

added a nice porch and a second story.

The builder was quite pleased with his home, but he was hardworking and

resourceful, so he was always planning improvements. Each day, as soon as

the morning sun began to rise over the bay, Colin put on his orange overalls

and tucked his tools in his big front pocket. Colin usually worked long hours,

toiling away long after the sun had set.

Sometimes on moonlit nights, Colin couldn’t sleep, so he

swam around his house with his tail wiggling excitedly, fixing

things or improving their appearance. He would straighten

the border stones, clean algae from the steps, and cut

down weeds along his property.



It was a mild August night. Colin sat on his roof and looked around.

The attic of Colin’s house reached the surface of the ground so he

could see the landscape by the river. It was beautiful, with its trees

and bushes, but it did not compare with the beauty of the river itself.

The crab knew every inch of the riverbed—all its bends, rocks, and

fallen trunks.

Occasionally peculiar surprises floated along the river. Colin had

snatched all kinds of unusual things out of the water. With his dexterous

claws, he’d turned an old shoe into a splendid warehouse. He’d

converted an empty can into a handy outdoor fireplace.

Night fell, and the water grew darker. The moon rose to the velvety

sky and lit Colin’s home bay. It was time for him to head inside.


Colin hummed happily while preparing his evening snack. With a steaming tea

mug in his claws, he climbed into his rocking chair and glanced out the window.

In the moonlight, he could see the garden pavilion he’d recently started to

build. He had dreamed of having a pavilion like this one for ages. At last he’d found

the time to gather all the materials and build the foundation. There was still a lot of

work to do, but he planned to devote all of next week to it.

Colin couldn’t wait until it was ready. He could have lots of happy gatherings with

his friends in the pavilion.

Colin knew nearly everyone who lived along the river. Friends often dropped by to

share news, or ask for his advice or help. Colin’s strong claws had dug the foundation

of the tortoises’ home. His claws had built a nest for the fish family to spawn

in. They’d rescued fish that were trapped in a fishing cage. And Ms. Catfish’s house

would surely not be still standing if it weren’t for Colin. He was constantly there,

helping with repairs.

The floorboards creaked as Colin rocked. He closed his eyes and imagined again

how much he would enjoy the new pavilion when it was done. It would be lovely to

sit there, watching the river eddy, and the little fish dash by.




On Monday morning, Colin woke up to the ringing of his can phone.

Old Ms. Catfish sounded cranky. She had slept poorly because a broken

gutter had banged all night, right outside her bedroom window.

“Colin, would you please come and fix my gutter as soon as possible?”

Ms. Catfish begged.

“Why, of course.” Colin sighed as he hung up. He didn’t have the heart

to say no to Ms. Catfish, even though he knew that he would have to

spend the entire day there. His garden pavilion would have to wait

until tomorrow.

The crab gathered some tools and put them on his clamshell cart. He

decided to bring his big toolbox, too, along with some boards, thread,

and wire. He knew from experience that Ms. Catfish’s house was full

of unexpected problems.



Ms. Catfish was impatiently waiting for Colin on her doorstep. She

had set the kitchen table neatly with coffee and some seaweed cakes.

It would take a moment or two before Colin could get to work. First, he

had to listen to stories about Ms. Catfish’s youth, and then they would flick

through a stack of photos of her nieces and nephews.

At dusk, the exhausted crab wiped his dirty claws on some seaweed and

slipped his level into his pocket. The gutter was now firmly attached to the

roof. The porch boards were hammered into place. And the dark glowworms

above the front door had been replaced with new ones that glowed


Colin said good-bye to Ms. Catfish, who stood waving outside her house

with a grateful expression.

Colin was still disappointed that he hadn’t been able to work on his pavilion

today, but beneath his breastplate, there was a warm heart. Colin

enjoyed working with others and the feeling of being useful.


At the crack of dawn on Tuesday, Colin put up the scaffold in front of his house.

Today he would really get his pavilion building going. The day couldn’t be better;

the river flowed calmly and the home bay basked in the sun.

Just as Colin had mounted the scaffold, Norma the Newt dropped by. She had a huge

family of little newts, and her hands were always full. They exchanged greetings and

marveled the beauty of the morning.


“Well, there’s no way around it. I’ve got more than enough work to do, rain or shine.”

Norma sighed with exhaustion. “Today I must get all ten windows of our house

cleaned. If only I had a scaffold like yours, Colin. Then I could reach all the way to

the upstairs windows.”

“I can come and help you,” Colin blurted out. “I have plenty of time to build my pavilion

tomorrow. I’ll just dismantle this scaffold and take it with me.”

Colin worked all day at the Newts’ house. When evening came, their windows were

spotless. Colin had also reattached the family’s water thermometer and straightened

a leaning gatepost.

After returning home, Colin was so tired, he headed straight to bed. Tomorrow he

would finally have time to work on his own pavilion.


Colin had all sorts of friends. They were big and small, old and young, chatty and

quiet. But Sally the Starfish was definitely vainer than any of his other friends.

Colin had a habit of collecting shiny bottle caps and pieces of glass from the river

bottom and taking them to Sally. She decorated her home with them. Shiny surfaces

also served as excellent mirrors for Sally, who liked to admire her own image and

make sure her arms were neat and clean.


Colin had just started putting up some support structures for his pavilion when

Sally the Starfish suddenly sailed in.

“Colin dear, you can’t imagine how depressed I am today,” Sally moaned. “It’s been

a dreadful week!”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Colin said as he wedged some corner posts between rocks.

“What happened?”

Colin had a strong hunch that things were probably not as bad as they seemed. Still

Sally liked to tell Colin her problems.



Sally launched into her stories while Colin worked.

First of all, her clay treatment at the Mud Bay Spa had been a disaster. Instead of

becoming smooth and soft, her skin had turned greenish and rough! And as if that

weren’t enough, Sally was sick and tired of her home’s decor.

“My house looks terrible. And no one has paid me a visit for days.” Sally sighed,

crossing two of her arms and resting her head on them.

Colin couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for her. “I could come for a visit today, if you

like. I’ll bring the new bottle caps and glass I’ve collected for you. I’ll attach them to

your garden fence in no time.”

Sally’s face lit up. “That sounds fabulous! Let’s go right now!”

Sally started for home. With a quiet sigh, Colin climbed down from the scaffold and




Sally was delighted with the new things that Colin

had brought her. Pointing, she told Colin exactly

where to put everything. He dutifully crawled along the garden

fence, attaching the treasures in just the right spots. Soon the

decorations glittered in the sun.

At home later, Colin’s back ached from all the hard work. He sat

in his rocking chair, thinking. I’ve made so little progress on

my pavilion this week. I wonder if I can finish it by the weekend.

From between the curtains of his bedroom window, he could

see lightning flashing over the bay. A thunderstorm was coming.

This storm will probably do some damage, Colin thought before

he fell asleep. That meant he’d have plenty of repairs tomorrow.



On Thursday morning heavy raindrops dappled the surface

of the river. The water was flowing swiftly, high

from rainwater and runoff from the hills.

Despite his exhaustion, Colin began to work on his pavilion right after his

bowl of morning porridge. With difficulty, he managed to set the joists in


The building is finally looking like a real garden pavilion! Colin thought. He felt

his spirits rise.

But before long, there was such a commotion around the scaffold that he had to

stop working. A huge school of tiny fish was flitting back and forth.

“What on earth’s name,” Colin murmured. “Where did you all come from?

Can’t you see this is a construction site?”

“We are so sorry! We didn’t mean to disturb you,” the fish mother apologized.

“My little ones are distressed because the thunderstorm swept away our home

last night. They feel at home under your scaffold. It’s quite similar to the pile of

sticks where they usually sleep.”

The flood took our home!” a little fish cried.

“Can we please stay here, in the shelter of this scaffold?” pleaded another little

one. “Please, Mr. Crab?”

Colin didn’t have the heart to say no. He saw how happy the little fish

were, swimming around in the maze formed by the scaffold and the


“Of course,” he said at last. “Welcome, everyone.”


The day turned out to be quite different from what Colin had planned.

The front yard swarmed with little fish. Since he couldn’t continue

working on his pavilion, Colin decided to clean the house.

Just as he had taken the rugs out to the porch, the fish needed his help

again. A pile of boards had toppled over while they were playing on the

slide. Now some of the little ones were trapped under the pile. Colin

carefully lifted up the boards and the poor little fish escaped.


At lunchtime, dozens of curious eyes appeared outside Colin’s kitchen

window. Now the small fish were hungry, and hoping to get a share

of his meal! Luckily, Colin had made plenty of insect soup.

The young fish were still boisterous by evening. Although Colin enjoyed

parties, this brouhaha was a bit too much for him. At last the fish mother

managed to get her little ones to settle down, and peace descended over

Colin’s courtyard.

“Maybe I’d better build a new fish house next,” Colin decided. “If the

little fish stay here much longer, I’ll never finish my pavilion!”


On Fridays, Colin usually felt happy and satisfied. But this

Friday Colin felt tired and irritated.

It had been nice to help all his friends during the week. Now,

however, the fish swimming around the pavilion were getting

on Colin’s nerves. He yanked his curtains shut in frustration.

Most Fridays Colin took his clamshell cart and went to the

water vole’s shop to buy food for the weekend. He liked to fry

some treats, maybe even bake a cake, and invite his friends

over for a meal.


But today Colin barely had

the strength to open his

mailbox for today’s newspaper. He skimmed through the stories

and ads in the Daily River News, barely paying attention.

Then, from between the pages of the paper, a letter fell to the


Colin picked up the letter. A delighted smile spread across his

face as he read it.

“This is the best news I’ve received all week!” Colin declared.

He’d won a trip to the waterfalls upstream!

“I’ve always dreamed about taking a trip to the waterfalls!

I can hardly wait to tell my friends about my prize!” Colin

chuckled, cheered up.


Colin dialed Sally the Starfish’s number to tell her the news. The crab had barely

managed to say hello when Sally launched into a long story about an evening

dress she was designing for herself.

“I wonder if purple would suit me better than sky blue,” Sally said. “You’re probably

not the best judge of that, Colin. I think I’ll call the pearl mussel right away instead.”

“Maybe that’s for the best,” Colin mumbled. “I don’t have much experience in evening

gown design.”

“Thanks. Talk to you soon!” Sally hung up fast.

The line was dead before Colin had a chance to say anything else. Bewildered, he

remained standing for a while with the can phone still in his hand.




Colin decided he’d try Eddie the Eel next. Eddie often spent his holidays by the

waterfalls; he’d be happy to hear about Colin’s trip. Perhaps he could even give

Colin some good tips.

Brrring. Brrring. Colin waited for Eddie to pick up the phone. Finally, Eddie answered

the phone, but he sounded rushed.

“Hi, Colin. Sorry, but this isn’t a very good time to chat. I’m on my way to a neighbor’s

party. I’d like to get there before the others eat up all the treats. If you have

nothing urgent on your mind, let’s talk another time.”

“Sure, Eddie, that’s fine.”

Colin put down the phone. Suddenly he didn’t care about sharing his news about

the prize with anyone. Instead all he wanted to do was scuttle into bed.


Colin slept for the rest of the day and into the evening. He didn’t bother

to wash his claws or change into his pajamas.

His dreams were troubled. He dreamed he was trapped in the river’s flow

while his friends waved to him from the riverbank. . Suddenly Colin was

wheeling his cart full of tools. The cart got stuck in the sandy bottom of

the river, and all the tools fell off. Colin used his claws to pull with all his

might, but the cart just wouldn’t budge.


In the morning, the sun shined between the curtains right into Colin’s

eyes. Colin just rolled over. He heard someone bang on his door several

times, but he ignored that too. Then someone knocked on his window. But

the crab stubbornly stayed under his blanket.




group of baffled friends gathered on Colin front porch. The day before, the

school of fish had observed Colin’s irritable behavior. Clearly, something

was wrong with Colin.

The fish mother had talked to Ms. Catfish about the situation. Ms. Catfish had

called Eddie the Eel, who’d fetched Sally the Starfish. Other friends were on the

porch too. They were all confused and worried about Colin. Now the friends

were having an emergency meeting.

“I didn’t have time to talk to him yesterday,” mumbled Eddie.

“Me neither,” whispered Sally.

Others in the group nodded.

“My noisy babies were the last straw!” declared the fish mother. “And now

Colin can’t finish building his pavilion because of us!”


The friends had all reached the same conclusion: Colin had

helped each and every one of them, but none of them had

helped Colin.

“We should band together to help Colin!” Eddie the Eel said.


“Indeed,” Ms. Catfish agreed. “I, for one, can offer a home to the

fish family. I live in a big house all by myself, and I’m a talented


“And I’m a good painter!” Sally put in. “I can help paint the pavilion.

I can use five brushes at once.”

An animated discussion followed. Colin’s friends made a plan for

how they could help their crab friend.


It turned out to be one busy Saturday. Friends bustled around

Colin’s house. There was plenty for everyone to do. Even the little

fish were helpful, carrying nails and screws.

Eddie the Eel was busy supervising the workers. He crisscrossed

the work site and shouted out instructions based on Colin’s plans,

which had been lying on the kitchen table. It was important for the

pavilion to be built exactly as Colin had imagined.


Sally the Starfish had a design in mind for the pavilion. In each

arm she held a paintbrush dipped in different color paint.

But Eddie shook his head. “Blue it shall be,” he said firmly. “That’s

what it says in Colin’s plan. It’s his favorite color, the color of the

river and the sky.”



The shellfish were a big help at the construction site. A group of six

crayfish—with their combined sixty legs—accomplished plenty in a

short period of time. Sam the Seashell had only one leg, but it would’ve

been hard to find a better floor polisher.

The site quieted down as the evening grew dark. At last the garden pavilion

was finished. The animals were tired but happy. The next day they

would reveal the surprise to Colin.

The workers headed home. Ms. Catfish took the rowdy young fish to her

house, and silence descended over Colin’s house. Only one light glimmered

inside—the one in the kitchen window. That was where Sally was

preparing a batch of insect soup for her friend.



The river inhabitants woke at sunrise to a beautiful Sunday morning.

Friends began streaming toward Colin’s house, carrying presents.

Soon the pavilion was filled with furniture, decorations, and trays overflowing

with food. Ms. Catfish brought her antique clam gramophone and

her favorite records.

The friends hung up a sign over the doorway to the new pavilion. Sally had

painted it on a pearl shell: Colin the Crab’s Pavilion.

The crayfish were sent to fetch Colin, who was still lying in bed in his dark

bedroom. The crayfish carefully moved his bed to the porch.

Everyone waited to see what would happen next.


The blanket began to heave. Colin twitched and turned restlessly, and

then finally, he lifted a corner of his blanket.

The crab blinked in astonishment. There were all his friends, smiling, and

a . . . brand-new garden pavilion!

Tears of joy fell from Colin’s tiny button eyes. The pavilion was exactly as

he had envisioned it!

What wonderful and caring friends I have, Colin thought joyfully. I’m such

a lucky crab.

The party at Colin’s pavilion lasted all day long. When night fell, his friends

lit the lanterns that the electric eel had hung all around. The crowd sat in

the pavilion far into the night. The wistful tunes from the clam gramophone

flowed into the bay and traveled up and down the eastern riverbank.

The night was very blue.



Colin the Crab, the most skillful builder on the eastern

riverbank, never hesitates to help his friends. Now Colin is

busy with his own new project—a garden pavilion for his home.

But after a week of hard work, the pavilion of his dreams is still

unfinished. Even worse, a boisterous fish family has taken over

the construction site.

The exhausted Colin buries himself under a blanket and refuses

to open his curtains. Puzzled, Colin’s friends call an emergency

meeting—it’s time for them to take action!


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